RiverArtsFest brings weekend of arts and music to South Main

Annual street fair keeps growing for its 7th year

Almost 200 booths offering arts and crafts from paintings to jewelry will be available at this year’s RiverArts Fest. About 80,000 people attended last year’s event.

Courtesy RiverArtsFest

Almost 200 booths offering arts and crafts from paintings to jewelry will be available at this year’s RiverArts Fest. About 80,000 people attended last year’s event.

In late October, our minds are drawn irresistibly to autumn leaves, pumpkins, the first fires on the hearth, heartier fare than we ate during the summer, Halloween and — at least in Greater Memphis — RiverArtsFest, the South Main extravaganza of art, crafts, music and food.

“American Steel,” mixed media; Chris Bruno, Lexington, Va.

Courtesy RiverArtsFest

“American Steel,” mixed media; Chris Bruno, Lexington, Va.

Now in its seventh year, the weekendlong event opens from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday night in conjunction with the monthly last-Friday South Main Art District Trolley Tour and continues 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free Friday and $5 Saturday and Sunday; children 10 and younger are admitted free all days.

“Weaving Squares,” watercolor; Jennifer Ardolino, Crystal River, Fla.

Courtesy RiverArtsFest

“Weaving Squares,” watercolor; Jennifer Ardolino, Crystal River, Fla.

A preview party will be held at Café Soul, 492 S. Main at Butler. The $25 admission covers food, wine and beer and represents a donation to RiverArtsFest.

“We’re excited about this year’s event,” says Lee Askew, principal with ANF Architects and a member of the festival’s eight-person steering committee. “At this point, we’re consumed with it. The festival grows every time, so this year we have almost 200 booths. We upgraded the signage and refined the positions on the street. I think it’s going to be a great one.”

“Funky Flowers,” glass jewelry;  Peter Swift, Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Courtesy RiverArtsFest

“Funky Flowers,” glass jewelry; Peter Swift, Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Launched in 2007, RiverArtsFest combined the previous Arts in the Park event, which faltered in its last years, with the South Main Arts Festival, bringing along many of the same board members and volunteers. RiverArtsFest attracted about 40,000 visitors in its first outing; last year, attendance was about 80,000, despite the fact that for the first few years no admission was charged. Admission was charged for the first time last year to help defray the expenses of setting up, security and cleaning South Main post-festival. As usual for the weekend, South Main will be closed to traffic from Huling to Webster, though the trolley will run on schedule.

This year, the Artist Market offers pieces from 180 artists chosen from around the country. Work will be available for purchasing in a wide variety of mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, glass art, fabric and wearable art, toys and jewelry. Festival attendees of all ages can exercise their own creativity at a Hands on Art station, or they can watch demonstrations of glass-fusing, papermaking, watercolor, woodcut printing, hot wax painting, metal sculpture and more.

“Dodecahedron,” ceramics;
Kyle Osvog, Minneapolis.

Courtesy RiverArtsFest

“Dodecahedron,” ceramics; Kyle Osvog, Minneapolis.

Three musical stages will feature regional acts in many genres, including rock, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, Latin, and more. South Main will also be filled with roving street performers.

Food and beverages will be available from a variety of vendors and food trucks.

As always with an outdoor event, weather is a consideration. “We were really lucky the first few years,” said Askew, “but last year it was cold on Friday and blustery on Saturday. The prediction for this weekend looks good, though. We’re all looking forward to the whole thing.”

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RiverArtsFest

6-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. South Main Arts District. Admission is $5 Saturday and Sunday; children 10 and younger admitted free all days.

A VIP/sponsor preview party will be held 6-9 p.m. Friday night at Café Soul,

492 S. Main at Butler. The $25 admission covers food, wine and beer and represents a donation to RiverArtsFest. Entertainment will be provided by the Mighty Souls Brass Band.

SATURDAY

National Civil Rights Museum Stage

1 p.m. Kris Acklen (singer/songwriter)

2:15 p.m. Yancy & Yancy (folk)

3:30 p.m. Misti Rae Trio (jazz/swing)

4:45 p.m. Blind Mississippi Morris (blues)

GE Patterson Stage

1:15 p.m. Marcella & Her Lovers (jazz)

2:30 p.m. Jason Freeman (rockabilly)

3:45 p.m. Whiskey Republic (alt-country)

5 p.m. Dash Rip Rock (roots rock)

South Stage

11:45 a.m. Deering & Down (roots rock)

1 p.m. Tennessee Mass Choir (gospel)

2:15 p.m. Laramie (indie rock)

3:30 p.m. Ghost Town Blues Band (blues)

4:45 p.m. Bluff City Backsliders (jazz/bluegrass)

SUNDAY

National Civil Rights Museum Stage

12:15 p.m. Myla Smith (folk/pop)

2:15 p.m. Loveland Duren (pop)

3:30 p.m. Breeze Cayolle Trio (jazz/swing)

4:45 p.m. Ruby Wilson (blues and R&B)

GE Patterson Stage

Noon Otis Faithful (blues)

1:15 p.m. Nino (Latin)

2:30 p.m. Chinese Connection Dub Embassy (reggae)

3:45 p.m. Jumpin’ Chi Chi’s (jazz/pop)

South Stage

11:45 a.m. School of Rock (kids rock)

1 p.m. Overton Ovation (teens rock)

2:15 p.m. Ruach (Jewish contemporary)

3:30 p.m. Will Graves & Soul (soul/R&B)

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